You have often contended that the creation of smaller states is like inducing the breakup
of India I disagree with you. Small states help to dilute regional chauvinism. For
example, the people of the Hindi belt do not harbour sentiment of regional chauvinism
because there are a number of Hindi speaking states. Moreover, if one belongs to a small
state, there is a natural inclination to look for a larger and therefore, say,a national
In fact, the single strongest argument in favour of smaller states is
that they would secure the unity of the country better than larger states.Unity through
division would seem a paradox but, I assure you, it is a viable paradox. I therefore whole
heartedly welcome the creation of Uttaranchal, Chhatisgarh and Jharkhand by subdividing
Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar respectively. So long as the local people want it
and it is eco-administratively viable, such subdivision of other large states should be
Let me return to the subject of national unity because I know that it
is bothering you. I realise that it also disturbs many another citizen. There flex
reaction in any breakup is a threat to the country. Let me convince you by taking you to
Pakistan of the days of President Ayub Khan, the1960s. Not long after he came to power,
Field Marshal Ayub expressed a preference for an equability between the two wings of his
country. He then proceeded to amalgamate the four provinces of the west, namely,
Baluchistan, North Western Frontier Province, Punjab and Sind into a jumbo province of
West Pakistan. The eastern wing was left alone as one unit. As you know, in 1971, the two
large wings fell apart, the east seceded and Bangladesh was born.
If only President Ayub had subdivided the east into, say, four seperate
provinces, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman would not have been able to lead the eastern wing out of
the country. Is it not just possible that the integrity of Pakistan would have been safer
with eight provinces, four in each wing, than with two jumbo wings? If neighbouring
Pakistan has lessons for India, one such lesson is to avoid large states.
The smaller the states, the stronger the centre. A large state can be
viable on its own. Going by population, Uttar Pradesh was considered the sixth largest
state in the world, after China, India, the USA, Russia and Indonesia. On the other hand,
a small state would find it difficult to survive in secession. Moreover, it would also
find it difficult to separate.
Another problem whose danger should not be underestimated is the
bureaucratic obsession with centralization. Comparatively, little of importance can be
achieved at district headquarters. Most issues of any significance are usually dealt with
at the secretariat of the state capital. This means that a person has to travel all the
way from Balia to Lucknow or from Jaisalmer to Jaipur or from Latur to Mumbai to get his
work done. How it is expensive in terms of time and money for the average citizen, can be
imagined. The ultimate argument therefore against a large state is that it is not
congenial for democracy in practice.
Then there is the question of federalism. A great deal of difference in
size between the biggest and the smallest state could work to the disadvantage of the
latter. This is against the spirit of federalism which is a corollary of democracy. If
individual citizens have an equal right of vote, it is called democracy. If every region
or state has an equal voice in the running of the country, it is true federalism. Agreed
that a variation in the size of the states is unavoidable. The largest and the smallest
state in the USA are vastly different in size. The American constitution, however, offsets
the difference by giving every one of the 50 states uniformly two senators each. And the
senate is distinctly more powerful,especially with regard to finance and foreign affairs,
than the lower house of them Congress or the parliament in Washington. This makes the USA
distinctly more federal than India.
Economic development should also favour a smaller, more manageable
state. For instance, Haryana became a granary after its separation from the Punjab region.
Gujarat was rather backward when it was a backyard of composite Bombay. Once it separated,
it rose on the economic map and is now one of the most industrialized states in the
country. Although it is a matter of conjecture, it is unlikely that Goa would have done so
well, had it been part of a bigger state?
The practice of democracy is also more actualised in a smaller state.
People of Vidarbha feel that they should have the right to manage their affairs based in
Nagpur than being compelled to function under the government at Mumbai, which is often
dominated by the metropolis as well as the districts of western Maharashtra.
Besides, smaller states are an insurance against economic backwardness.
Even if some of them do not spark with progress, others would. For instance, it is
possible that several areas of Bihar would be capable of blooming materially, if only they
were on their own and not entrapped in the embrace of a retrograde government in Patna. A
principle of management, whether of a company or a country, is decentralized operation.